Thomas Chatterton

Bristoliensis, "On Rowley's Poems and Chatterton" Gentleman's Magazine 48 (September 1778) 403.

Mr. Urban,

A volume of poems having been just published, which were "undoubtedly" composed by Thomas Chatterton, I take the liberty of transmitting to you the following minutes of his life. If you think them worth printing, the public will see how compleatly his time was filled, and in what sort of employment, and of consequence the great improbability of his being the author likewise of the poems attributed to Rowley, a work, in which there are very many instances of acquired knowledge, and that too in various branches.

These minutes may be depended upon; they were collected with great care, and I transmit them to the public with equal fidelity. Should any one, however, doubt, I refer him to the sources from which this information is drawn, namely, the Register of Mr. Colston's blue-coat school; the Editor's Introduction to Rowley's poems; and Mrs. Chatterton, the boy's mother.

I am, Sir, Yours,


Bristol, Sept. 10, 1778.

THO. CHATTERTON, the younger, was born Nov. 20, 1752; christened, had no instruction but from a Mr. Love, who succeeded old Chatterton as master of the charity-school of St. Mary Redcliffe.

He was admitted into Colston's blue-coat-school (where nothing is taught but writing and accounts) Aug. 3, 1760. The school-hours are, in mornings, from 7 till 12; afternoons, from 1 till 5, in the summer: in the winter, from 8 till 12, mornings, afternoons, from 1 till 4. Bed-time, all the year, 8 in the evening. Allowed to be out of school Saturdays and Saints-days, only, in the afternoon from 1 till 7 o'clock; never on Sunday, and that whole day being passed in public and private religious exercises.

He left this school August 1, 1767; went into Mr. Lambert the attorney's office immediately. The office-hours are from 7 in the morning till 8 in the evening. He continued with Mr. Lambert till April, 1770, when he went to London, and there died the 22d of August following, age 17 years, 9 months, and 2 days.

During his residence in London he was engaged to write in several magazines, &c. as appears from his letters to his sisters, now extant.

P. S. Should the above meet with your approbation, I purpose to furnish some other anecdotes, which I flatter myself will be some amusement to those of your readers who interest themselves in this question.